Once in a generation, an anthem comes along that unifies us all, inspiring societal change, triggering political upheaval and making the world a better place.

John Lennon's Imagine.

Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' On.

Spice Girls' Wannabe.

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Remarkably, the debut hit that introduced the girls to the world turns 20 years old today - it was released way back on July 8, 1996. We wish we could bring you happy news of the group's much-talked-out reunion today, but unfortunately it seems indecision and infighting are preventing the five-piece from getting back together for the immediate future.

Instead, let's look back at a few fascinating facts about that two-minutes-and-fifty-two-seconds slice of pop heaven that kickstarted a pop cultural revolution ...


1. Wannabe wasn't even supposed to be the group's debut single. The group, led by Mel B and Geri Halliwell, was adamant that the song served as the best introduction to their personalities and the Girl Power statement. However, their record company Virgin's executives believed that the first single should be Say You'll Be There or album track Love Thing.

2.

The

Wannabe

music video was shot in one take inside the abandoned Midland Grand Hotel in London. It was freezing cold inside the hotel - which you may notice from Melanie B's, uh, nippular area, which resulted in the video being banned in several Asian countries. Record company execs hated the finished product, but the group refused to shoot another video.

3.

The setting for the video is now the swanky St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel - but that iconic staircase the girls all dance on remains, and is mecca for Spice Girls fans worldwide. This week, a few dozen Spice fanatics assembled on the staircase to mark the group's big anniversary.

4. Wannabe soon became the best-selling single by a girl group ever, shifting more than seven million copies worldwide. In 2014, it was rated as the most easily recognisable pop song of the past 60 years in a scientific study - listeners took an average of 2.3 seconds to recognise it, less than half the time of most other pop hits. Take THAT, Macarena.

Despite regular talk of a Spice Girls reunion, Victoria Beckham has yet to come to the party.
Despite regular talk of a Spice Girls reunion, Victoria Beckham has yet to come to the party.

5.

The finished version of

Wannabe

doesn't sound too dissimilar from the original demo - but it went through several iterations in between. Unconvinced they had a hit on their hands, the record company commissioned producers to remix the song.

"The result was bloody awful," said Geri Halliwell in her second autobiography (yes, Geri Halliwell has two autobiographies).

"Right at the beginning of the Spice Girls, [record company honcho] Ashley Newton had tried to turn us into an R & B group. He sent Wannabe over to America to be remixed by some hot R & B producers. He brought us jungle versions and hip-hop mixes and I hated them all. Although Mel B was a big fan of R & B, she agreed with me that these versions just didn't work so we exercised our Spice veto!"

6. The B-side to the single - the song you'd hear when you flipped the cassingle over in your tape deck - was a smooth R & B track called Bumper To Bumper, penned by pop singer Cathy Dennis. After a string of early 90s hits, Dennis' musical career was floundering by 1996. Having a song on a multi-million-selling single kickstarted her career behind the scenes though, and she went on to pen hits like Kylie's Can't Get You Out Of My Head, Britney's Toxic and Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl.

7. Geri Halliwell performed Wannabe solo as a slowed-down ballad at her reception for her wedding to F1 boss Christian Horner. We repeat: GERI HALLIWELL PERFORMED WANNABE AT HER OWN WEDDING.


8. The girls' very first appearance singing Wannabe? They randomly showed up on a 1996 episode of Surprise Surprise, lip-synching the then-unheard track in an underground car park. The GLAMOUR. Check it out three minutes into the clip below and stick around for their oh-so-self-aware introductions afterwards. "I'm Melanie C and I love football!" "I'm Victoria and I love shopping!" "I'm Emma and I love doughnuts, chocolate and pink!" Bless.


9. Poor old Posh Spice - never the Mariah Carey of the group - didn't have a single solo line in the song, thanks in part to the fact she was absent for much of the writing process (yes, the girls have a writing credit on the song). She finally got her time to shine after fellow vocal powerhouse Geri Halliwell left the group in 1998 and she took over her lines in the group's subsequent US tour.

10. The girls most recently performed the track at the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games, mashed up with their 1997 hit Spice Up Your Life. It was a massive success: the Spice Girls scored more than 116,000 tweets per minute during their performance, more than any other performer or athlete involved in the ceremony. GIRL POWER REIGNS.